Why Do We Love the Smell of Old Books?

Ep. 5

In this episode of Libromania, David chats with Cecilica Bembibre, a researcher at University College London, about the science behind the smell of old books: why people love it, why it matters, and what it means for the preservation of culture.

Cecilia Bembibre is a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA), University College London. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Buenos Aires and an MRes from the Institute of Sustainable Heritage, The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies (UCL). She is interested in historic smells and they ways we engage with the olfactory aspect in heritage spaces. You can read more about her work at

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Jess Walter

Ep. 6
Walter is the author of sevennovels, one book of short stories and one nonfiction book. His work has been selected three times for Best American Short Stories as well as the Pushcart Prize and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He’s been published in, Harper's, Esquire,McSweeney's, Tin House, Ploughshares, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many others.He began his writing career in 1987 as a reporter for his hometown newspaper, The Spokesman-Review where he was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize as part of a team covering the shootout and standoff at Ruby Ridge, in Northern Idaho. Eventually he wrote about this in hisfirst book, Every Knee Shall Bow, in 1995. He has also worked as a screenwriter and has taught graduate creative writing at the University of Iowa, Pacific University, Eastern Washington and Pacific Lutheran.Walter has twice won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award (for The Zero and We Live in Water), the Washington State Book Award (The Cold Millions) and was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize (The Zero) and the PEN/USA Award in both fiction (The Zero) and nonfiction (Every Knee Shall Bow). His novel Beautiful Ruins was a #1 New York Times bestseller and spent more than a year on the bestseller list. It was also Esquire's Book of the Year and NPR Fresh Air's Novel of the Year. The Financial Lives of the Poets was Time Magazine's#2 novel of the year and Walter's story collection, We Live in Water, was longlisted for the Story Prize and the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award. Walter's latest novel is the national bestseller, The Cold Millions, A BOOK OF HISTROICAL FICTION “Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force from a “writer who has planted himself firmlyin the first rank of American authors” (Boston Globe).